Sitting on the couch I munch on the salty goodness they call pretzels. I swear my tongue dances in my mouth, for real though who doesn’t love pretzels. Chips aren’t my thing but pretzels....I freakin fancy. Yes, this is what I do on my weekends...well more like every day of the week I sit, munch, and enjoy. It’s kinda sad really but I’m a complete foodie and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
It’s summer so why not do what I want.
If my brothers were here, they would scold me...haha jokes on them because they’re not here to see it. Don’t get me wrong I love them infinitely but they have a tendency of treating me like a child. Rex is the oldest, twenty-six while my other brother Layten is twenty-one. They are super overprotective, sometimes it’s suffocating. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
They practically raised me. My father almost never comes home. He’s a busy man, a truck driver. He’s gone months at a time and when he’s home it’s not for long. My mama, she tries her best...she really does but it’s hard for her. She struggles and it hurts my heart.
It was Rex who always attended my parent-teacher meetings. Rex made my education a priority, he was always making me do my homework and I hated it. Layten you could say was a little less responsible, yes he was incredibly smart just like Rex but he also had a rambunctious side.
Plopping a pretzel into my mouth, the sound of the front door screeching open catches my ears. I spring from my seat on the couch and sprint to the door.
In comes Layten. I grin ear to ear, I’ve missed him so much. It’s only been a couple of days but I don’t care, he never leaves me for that long. Layten attends a community college, he refused to go out of state. Apparently it was because he didn’t want to leave me. I scuffed at that but in all honesty, I knew I didn’t want him to leave me either. I wasn’t ready to be alone.
I run right into his tall muscled figure and wrap my arms tightly around his waist. His chest rumbles in laughter but he returns my hug and kisses my forehead. “Miss me baby doll?
Obviously I missed him but I could tell from the concerned look in his eyes that he missed me too. I’m always around him so when he’s gone it’s weird. He had been a constant in my life, he was always there for me, always taking care of me. Yeah, we had our sibling fights but what siblings didn’t?
Ignoring his question I pull away and take a step back. His blue eyes that match mine take in the appearance of the house and after land back on me. “Have you eaten Elizabeth?”
I cross my arms over my chest and huff. “Of course I have.”
A stern look crosses Layten’s face as he eyes the couch. He walks over to the couch that I was just minutes ago on and picks up the blanket. Under it are my bag of pretzels which he lifts up and eyes me with that stern unapproving look.
A sheepish smile plays on my lips.
“Real food Elizabeth, this is junk, I meant have you eaten real food?” Before I can answer he shakes his head and puts his hand out silencing me, “Don’t answer that, go get cleaned up and I’ll make you something.”
“Layt...” I’m about to say but from the look on his face, I decide not to defend myself. He knows me so well that whatever excuse I was about to make, he would see right through it.
So instead I snap my mouth shut and stomp up the stairs. Yes, I stomp because I’m almost seventeen and should be able to eat junk food and be lazy once in a while. But in truth, I know my argument is failing at the minute because if I had the choice I would be a lazy couch potato all the time.
Before I’m out of earshot I hear him mutter something along the lines, “This is why I can’t leave you.”
I trudge down the cream-colored hallway to my bedroom, I mean I don’t really have to walk that far my bedroom is only two doors down on the left. It’s the room right after the bathroom which is a plus in case I wake up and have to tinkle. Picture frames align the wall, not many but some.
I stop in front of the picture of my mama with my brothers. In the photo, the sun is about to set leaving the sky full of bright shades of pinks and reds. Layten is holding mama’s hand running towards the lake, Rex right beside them. My mama’s hair was wild with thick black curls, her pink lips were turned up into a smile. She was easily the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.
I wasn’t born yet when this photo was taken, but it was one of my favorites. They all seemed so happy. Layten and I inherited her ocean blue eyes while Rex had my father’s chocolate ones.
Releasing a sigh I continue down the hall until I reach my bedroom. So much for wanting to watch a whole season today. My bedroom was a pastel blue, a full-size bed resided in the middle of the room with a light grey comforter. A world map canvas hung above my bed and a nightstand right next to it.
Picking up my phone the first thing I see is text messages from Alex.
Alex: Are you free?
Alex: Elizabeth Rose I swear to god if you don’t answer me.
Alex: What the fuck Elizabeth.
Alex: Whatever be a bitch... I was going to ask you to come to the drive-ins with us later.
Is she for real? It’s not like I’m on my phone every second of every day. Yet she has the audacity to call me a bitch when she’s the one who left me alone at that party. Yeah, I’m still mad about it, she brought me to that stupid beach party and ditched me. Not to mention I didn’t even want to go.
Then I remember Jay and how I smoked and made out with him which is completely unlike me. I kinda forgot about it considering I’ll probably never see him again. And the best part is when I finally found her she was dead ass drunk. I legit had to drag her to the car. She knew the risk I had to take to even go to that party if my brothers found out they would be pissed.
Me: Seriously Alex I’m the bitch? I just checked my phone. I send her throwing my phone to the side. She irritates me immensely sometimes.
Not even a few seconds later my phone buzzes.
Alex: Right sorry. Anyway, drive-ins later at seven, see you then.
I didn’t even say yes...she’s lucky she’s my best friend. Getting off my comfy bed I stroll over to my dresser and take out a t-shirt and light washed jean shorts along with undergarments.
Whatever Layten plans on making me it will probably take a little while, so while he cooks I’ll shower.
Leaving the bathroom a muffled sound hits my ears. I stop and listen so I can hear it better. I walk towards the sound and as I get closer I can hear more clearly sniffles? Hiccups?
Then an unmistakable loud crash, and I’m running. Mama.....I throw open my parent's bedroom door and my heart breaks at the sight in front of me. Little glass shards scatter the floor and in the middle, my mother sits shaking in front of the now broken mirror. Her curls cling to her face, her hollowed cheeks are stained with tears. Her right knuckles are all cut up.
I run over to her, “Mama.” I whisper, “Oh my....mama, what have you done?” My lips quiver as I drop to the floor in front of the broken women.
Her head shakes back and forth. I pull her fragile body into my arms. Why...why does my mama have to suffer, why does she have to go through this?
"Am I not good enough.” She sobs, “Am I too ugly.”
My own eyes blur. The voices, they never stop. My poor mama has to hear them, she has to suffer. She doesn’t deserve this, nobody does. I love her so much, it hurts to see her like this.
“No mama.” I murmur, “You’re beautiful.” I tell her tucking her hair behind her ears. Her small hand is littered with bright red cuts. I hold her tight hoping I can make her feel better, make her feel wanted. My cheeks slowly begin to dampen.
“W-what did I do wrong?” A whimper leaves her lips.
“Nothing.” I whisper, “You did nothing wrong.”
Heavy footsteps hurry into the room. My head raises and through my watery eyes I make out Layten rushing towards us. He untangles my arms from the fragile woman in front of me and pulls me up off the floor.
“Go” He points to the door.
I instantly shake my head. “No I-I can’t leave her.”
Layten's face goes stern, “Lizzie now.” His tone leaves no room for question.
I want to argue, I want to refuse to leave. But I know better, I know that tone and I know not to question it. Taking one last look at the woman who gave birth to me, I painfully turn away and leave.
When my mother gets like this, my brothers never let me help. They always take care of it, and when I try they get mad. Seeing my mom like that makes me all emotional, that’s probably why they always make me leave the room.
Rubbing my eyes I slowly trek down the hall and down the stairs. All I wanted to do was help, I wanted to make my mama feel loved. Seeing my mama break down makes my chest feel heavy, I hate seeing her hate herself.
Upon entering the kitchen a delicious aroma hits my senses and my stomach grumbles. But I can’t bring myself to eat, not after what I just encountered. So instead I grab a glass from the cupboard and fill it with tap water from the sink. After I take a seat on one of our island stools and stare at the fruit bowl.
Our kitchen wasn’t huge, it was average. Our countertops were wooden, our cupboards were white. We had dark hardwood floors and a window above our sink. It was nice and homey, also clean.
We lived in a four-bedroom two-story house. Our home was cozy and familiar. The neighborhood was friendly. We weren’t rich but our house was nice. My father works hard to pay the bills but he practically lives out of his tractor-trailer rather than his actual house.
He works for a company called Liberty Loads and makes good money. But I rarely see him, and the sad part is I have little memories with him. Looking back I can faintly remember sitting on his lap at the table while he chatted with his friends. Or how his presence was enough to brighten my mother’s day.
When he was around my mother’s voices were quiet. He had such an effect on her and I know he loved her. But when he was gone my mother’s voices told her differently. She couldn’t help it and that alone took a toll on her.
Sipping my water I don’t hear Layten come in. He takes a seat next to me and runs his hands through his dirty blonde hair. Both Rex and Layten had my father’s hair color while I had my mother’s charcoal black.
“How is she?” I ask quietly.
His head turns towards me, “Lizzie please not right now.”
A frown takes shape of my lips. He never tells me, why did I think it would be different this time.
I turn away from him feeling upset. “Don’t be like that baby doll, I took care of it okay, now you need to eat.”
I cross my arms feeling the pressure behind my eyes. She’s my mom too. “I’m not hungry,” I mutter standing up so I can leave the room.
My feet carry me towards the archway when I hear, “Elizabeth Rose.” But I ignore the call from Layten. I don’t care that he called me by my full name, usually, it’s what he calls me when I’m in trouble. I don’t want to talk right now and I’m definitely not going to eat.
Before completely leaving the room I say, “I’m going to the drive-ins later with my friends and yes I am going.” Attitude evident in my tone. Not waiting for a reply I head to my room.
Irritation swells within me. My dad's never home to parent me, so Layten thinks it’s his job and I can’t do anything about it. Thank god Rex isn’t here, he takes “parenting” to a whole new level. He would freak if he heard my attitude and would no doubt ground me. Unbelievable right?
I wouldn’t even be surprised if Layten tells me I can’t go. It doesn’t matter because either way, I’m going even if I have to sneak out.
“What took you so long?”
I turn my head to Alex’s voice. She came and picked me up because Layten told me I couldn’t go as predicted. He said something about not wanting me out late while it’s dark, even after I argued that it was just a movie and I would be in the trunk of Alex’s Chevrolet Equinox with all my friends. It’s not like I was going to be alone but he still said no.
Obviously I didn’t take no for an answer. Instead, I locked my bedroom door, opened my window, and swung myself out to the nearest tree branch. Climbing down the tree until I was a good five feet off the ground I jumped landing on my feet in a kneeling position.
Now here I am, “Layten being a dick.”
Alex snorts, “Typical.”
I shake my head as a laugh leaves my lips, “Don’t even get me started.”
Alex knows first hand how annoying my brothers can be. I’m turning seventeen and I swear I’m still a child in their eyes. “So what are we watching?”
She shrugs, “The boys didn’t tell me.”
Well, I guess we’re about to find out. We pull into the long drive up to the ticket booth. Alex purchases our tickets and continues to drive in. We pull up right next to Alex’s boyfriend Gavin’s vehicle. Our group of jock friends crowd the vehicle. Some are sitting on the hood of a navy blue 2018 SUV.
Not a second later Alex is out of the car making her way over to Gavin. She walks right up to the tall blonde boy and kisses him on the cheek. The football player wraps an arm around her waist almost immediately. I wonder how long they’ll last.
“Hey, babe.” Then acknowledging me, “Elizabeth.”
I wave walking towards the group. Hunter a dark brown-haired boy and Aaron a light brown-haired boy stand chatting with Gavin. While Maya is a good friend of mine and Lena, a cheerleader, relaxes on the hood.
After getting our seating arrangements set I realized how bad I needed to pee. I was scrunched up in between Hunter and Maya in Alex’s trunk. We just got the blankets and pillows settled and as soon as I laid down and faced the gigantic white screen my bladder felt like it was going to explode.
Groaning I sit up, Hunter raises an eyebrow in question. “Bathroom,” I mutter sitting up and crawling out.
My feet pad across the wet grass in the dark to the light of the concession stand. I walk around the side and go into the side labeled women’s. As soon as I enter I cringe, spiderwebs edge the corners of the ceiling, insects buzz around the single light bulb flying into it resulting in that awful ding noise.
Washing my hands I scurry towards the door wanting to leave as quickly as possible. I hate public bathrooms. I release a breath of relief as I feel the fresh air hit my face.
Screaming I jump back hitting the wooden shingles of the concession stand.
“Well, that could have gone better.”
I drop my hand from my erratically beating heart and acknowledge Jay with wide eyes. “What. The. Flipping. Fudge, Jay.” I shriek throwing my hands in the air. “You freakin scared the shit out of me.”
He starts laughing, “I was just saying hi.”
“Exactly!” I push his shoulder, “You popped up out of nowhere, Jesus what if I was some killer and knocked you out.” I try to reason, and if I was he would be dead.
“You’re not...or are you?” He says mocking skepticism.
“Of course not.”
“Then I have nothing to worry about.”
Throwing my hand on my hip I scuff, “Not the point.”
“Anyway, why are you here?” I question wondering what exactly Jay is doing outside the women’s bathroom.
“I saw you and wanted to say hi, or do I need permission?”
“Yes.” He arches an eyebrow and I glare, “Well...no.” I cross my arms feeling my cheeks flush. “But scaring the living daylights out of me is not cool.” I trail off seeing Jay's attention is set on something behind me.
“Fucking walk bitch, keep your four-eyed freak eyes to yourself.” I gasp turning around to see an older woman with glasses scurrying into the bathroom.
“Jay,” I yell.
He smiles, he actually smiles causing butterflies to erupt in my stomach. Holy. Freakin. Moly. “You should come sit with me.” He suggests leaning against the wall like he didn’t just say anything rude.
Forgetting it, I tilt my head to the side and ask, “Sit where?”
“With me, on my tailgate.”
I look in the direction of my friends, “My friends...”
“Will be fine without you.” He says grabbing my hand dragging me to where I’m guessing is his truck. I begin objecting and saying my friends will wonder where I am, but he completely ignores me bringing me to his truck.
He stops in front of a maroon ford and gestures for me to climb onto the back tailgate. I comply and get up on the back of the truck. He follows behind. I settle in against the back and fold my arms in my lap.
Jay sits next to me and crosses his legs over one another. “Are you going to pretend like nothing happened.”
I stare at him confused. “Huh?”
“At the party, you know how we shared saliva, your tongue and my tongue swirling together.”
I scrunch my nose. “You mean kissing.”
His hands slide into his pockets, “Yup.” He says popping the p.
“Ahh fuck.” He grumbles loudly placing his hands beside him. His hands slide across the floor of the tailgate then stop, “I forgot my gummy worms.”
He stands up and jumps over the side of his truck landing on the ground. Taking a few steps he swings open his truck door and pulls out three packages of gummy worms. After he climbs back up and sits back in his original seat.
Opening the package he takes out the sugary candy and drops it into his mouth. “Mmm.”
As Jay chews he gazes at me, “I’m taking you out again tomorrow Rosa.” He says, his mouth stuffed.
He continues to stuff his face with gummy worms, “Yeah.” What does he mean again? We haven’t even hung out before unless I’m missing something which I’m pretty sure I’m not.
“When was the first time?”
“Today duhhh.” He says like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “And tomorrow will be our second date.” Ummm I’m confused, This wasn’t even a date.
“I’m pretty busy.”
“Well, not tomorrow you are not, because I’m reserving you to go out with me.” He licks the sugar off his fingers. I watch as his tongue slides over his fingers...ewww. This place is full of germs and he’s licking his fingers like he’s starving.
I stare at him, “I have plans.” I say blandly, even though I actually don’t.
“Yeah with me.” He states and I sigh knowing he’s not going to let this go. “Phone Number?
I glare, I shouldn’t give my number to someone I just met. In a split second, I make up one.
“Funny, now what’s your real one.” My mouth drops open. How did he know? Am I that bad at lying?
“That is the real one.”
He stares at me like I’m dumb. “So if I call you right now, I’ll hear your phone ring?” Damn, he’s good.
Sighing I give him my real number which he takes and taps in the digits into his phone. Now he has created a new contact for me. After he clicks in the contact and starts typing. A second later my phone buzzes. He sent me a text saying ‘This is my number’.
He slides his phone back into his pocket and looks at me, “Oh, and Elizabeth.” I turn my head towards him. He leans in close enough to where I can feel his warm breath on my neck. Shivers run down my spine. “I hate liars.” He breathes. “Don’t ever lie to me.” He says gripping my chin somewhat harshly. “Got it?”
“I-it was a joke.”
His ash eyes darken boring into mine. “No it wasn’t.” He says tightening his grip on my chin. “Don’t lie to me ever again it’s not in your best interest, are we clear.” I nod slightly, and his death grip thankfully loosens. I watch as his eyes fade back to their normal shade. “Good girl.”